Revise, remix, reinvent and reuse. This was the advice given by a panel of store designers at the World Retail Congress in Barcelona in a session on Store Design During a Recession.

Lewis Allen, director of environments at London-based Portland Design, said that retailers should consider graphic rather than structural makeovers for their stores as in the current climate it permits greater flexibility and avoids the danger of a format being locked into a particular look. James Tippman, chief executive of US design consultancy FRCH, said that retailers and designers should be looking at the stores they already have and considering how they might be made to work harder, rather than trying to completely remodel interiors.

All of the panellists offered money saving ideas for retailers that would help to improve the appearance of their stores without the need for massive capital outlay. These ranged from improved layouts and using the stock itself to act as a visual prop, to changing graphics and in-store displays with greater frequency.

Denny Gerdeman, chief executive and co-founder of US design consultancy Chute Gerdeman, suggested that even mannequins could be refreshed. “Paint them a different colour and you have a whole new look,” he said, capturing the sense of new from old that was a recurring theme during the session.

All the panellists agreed that retailers now expect more for less when employing designers. They also said that when the recession has run its course, the way in which store design is conducted will have undergone a permanent change.